Are Latkes meant to taske like Paspalum?

Besides writing, which my girlfriend does for a living, she has a wide range of interests and dreams. Today she’ll tell you about this tailoring class she wants to take so she can add to her collection of eccentric DIY earrings and shoes, tomorrow you’ll find her in a passionate discussion with a stranger reading a book on local Ugandan herbs, going on about how herbalism has always been her long term dream vocation, alongside writing children’s books.

“I think you would be better off reading about herbs in Burkina Faso” I interject, “You’ve always talked about moving to Ouagadougou to teach English?”

“Ass wipe!” she retorts. “I said I would stay in Burkina Faso only a short while when I start travel writing, I didn’t say I wanted to move there permanently.”

Meanwhile, cooking happens to be one of her fascinations, and lucky for her, I’m not picky with what goes into my mouth so I’ll be up for whatever crazy recipe she may print out on her way to my place from work. She may come babbling about masala chips today and tomorrow she I’ll show up with a cluster of huge onions to make onion rings. Anything new she eats out or stumbles upon on the internet is a candidate in her kitchen, and the experiments are done at my place before she cooks them at her home where she stays with her family. This time round, she came up with the idea to make a Jewish dish.

“I’ve got it,” popped a gchat IM at noon “The idea for today’s meal; we’re going to prepare Latkes.”

“Yey” I squealed before I even googled the word. I later received a link that led me to photos of brown crispy looking pancakes I thought I would be

The meal I thought I was going to eat
The meal I thought I was going to eat

masticating that evening. As soon as the boss stepped out of office at 4:30 pm, I wrestled my arms into my jacket and scrammed. I grabbed a boda-boda home, only to stopping over at the supermarket to buy some eggs and a new kitchen towel as requested.

Reaching home, she was already in the kitchen grating the potatoes. Freeing myself of the coat, I rolled up my sleeves and asked how I could help.

“Come, finish up with the grating as I mince the parsley.” The recipe placed atop the fridge did not have parsley among the ingredients, but she doesn’t cook food without parsley. We’ll run out of salt and make do without but she won’t fry anything without parsley.

I finished the grating, soaked the potato strips in water for a minute, drained and then wrung them in the kitchen towel I came with, just as instructed. I normally play a passive rule in the kitchen; most of my work revolves around slicing the onions, passing the salt and repeatedly tasting if the pork is ready.

At first I used to rebuff this whole kitchen business, feeling it made me more whipped than I already am, or ‘domesticated’, as a friend of mine likes to put it; but I would be a blithering liar if I said I don’t enjoy it. Cooking is now more of a love affair than an activity we perform when we’re hungry. We do have our relentless squabbles, but when it comes to cooking, fights over our personality differences can always take a back seat.

After performing my role, I leaned against the kitchen sink and waited to pass the frying spatula or whatever may be required. But five minutes after she threw the first of four molds she’d made so far into the frying pan, I started losing hope that our latkes would look anything like the pancakes on the recipe I was now holding in my hands.

“Baby is it just me or we’re reinventing a variant of this Yiddish dush?” I croaked.

“Give it some time, I’ve got this” She replied.

“But babe,” I insisted. “You’ve been frying that one lump over five minutes now and it has not only refused to clump together but still looks like steamed cabbage strips”

2013-02-06 19.39.47
The mean joke we ended up with after hours of preparation

After flogging the dead horse for another minute, she swallowed her pride and got the latkes (or a sorry attempt at that) onto the plate. It was a disaster, and I felt her pain, not after all the announcements she had made on all social media. And here she was, melancholically staring at the plate like a mother who has just had a stillbirth.

“It’s ok love” I hugged her, “We’ve experimented with many exotic dishes and they’ve come out fine, we’ll download another recipe and try this again.”

However, a part of me was convinced that if we’d put a little less parsley and thrown in an extra egg our latkes would have tasted a little more like fried cabbage than paspalum.”

Stuck with over a kilogram of the raw mixture and wondering what to do with it. She suggested we make masala chips of it. Conversely, I was thinking frying it like nsenene would be a better idea.

We later zeroed down to a mashed potatoes paste, which proved to be a worse disaster than the latkes, even the dog snubbed that shit.

Related piece.  Honey I Denounce That New Hairstyle.


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